Porn magnate Desmond gives £100,000 to New Labour

Click to follow

Richard Desmond, owner of The Daily Express and a a soft-porn empire, has made a donation worth £100,000 to the Labour party.

The money was received in the run-up to the 2001 general election – the same year that Mr Desmond's once Tory-supporting newspapers gave their editorial backing to Labour.

It will appear in the party's next annual report, due to be published this autumn, and in the accounts of the donor company Northern & Shell.

The publisher is a convert to the New Labour cause. In 1997 he gave a £5,000 donation to the Conservative party, which he had actively supported. But now the fruits of Mr Desmond's business interests – which have an estimated turnover of £270m that has contributed to his personal fortune, said to be worth £150m – are heading towards Labour's Millbank headquarters.

Labour's cosy relationship with Mr Desmond, who was better-known as the publisher of titles such as Asian Babes and Nude Readers' Wives before he acquired the Express Group, is certain to cause red faces in some quarters.

The more glamorous side of his publishing career did not, however, put off Labour's former general secretary Margaret McDonagh, who became general manager of Mr Desmond's newspaper titles last autumn.

Labour said last night that questions on Mr Desmond's business interests were a matter for him, stressing instead that the donation would appear, thanks to the party's commitment to "transparency", in their forthcoming annual report.

A spokesman for Northern & Shell said the company had offered the Labour party free advertising in its newspapers before the 2001 election. But Labour declined, asking instead for a cash donation.

The money was later ploughed back into advertising with the Express Group newspapers and formed, the spokesman said, "part – though not all – of the Labour party's spend with our newspapers during the election campaign".

Comments